Wednesday, April 29, 2009

C. P. Cavafy: State of the Art Website

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the birth of the great Greek poet, C. P. Cavafy. Two new volumes of his work have just been published: a new Collected Poems and a volume entitled The Unfinished Poems. Online the official Cavafy website is a state of the art wonder, collecting a variety of translations (sometimes up to 4 for an individual poem) into 5 distinct categories: "The Canon," "Repudiated," "Hidden," "Unfinished (titles only)," and "Prose Poems." There are also sections of his prose, as well as biographical, critical material, and a bibliography of his work. In addition there is an archival section that has notes, images, manuscripts, and more.

The respect accorded to the poet here should be a model for website development of all major poets, it is that good. All the major works, as translated by Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard are available to read, with many alternate translations as alluded to above. As an example, here are two translations of a short poem of interest:

Long Ago

I’d like to speak of this memory...
but it’s so faded now... as though nothing is left—
because it was so long ago, in my early adolescent years.

A skin as though of jasmine...
that August evening—was it August?—
I can still just recall the eyes: blue, I think they were...
Ah yes, blue: a sapphire blue.
C. P. Cavafy
translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard

Far Back
I should like to tell you of this reminiscence....
But it has faded so.... it is as though nothing now remained —
because far back, in my first adolescent years it lies.

A skin that was suggestive of the jasmine....
That August evening — Was it the month of August?....
Hardly do I remember now the eyes; they were blue, I think....
Ah, yes! I can recall their blue — a sapphire blue.
C. P. Cavafy
translated by John Cavafy

Placing a variety of translations of individual poems side by side like this helps greatly in attempting to evoke the poet's original execution and intent. Even the lesser translations provide a wealth of suggestion for healthy speculation. Another poem I was taken with, "Candles," has three variations as well as the original Greek. It just doesn't get much better than this. It's well worth checking out while Cavafy is in mind.

Tomorrow is also the birthday of Yusef Komunyakaa: here is nice selection of his work at the Internet Poetry Archive.


Cover by Bobo

This visit to the Lilliput Review archive takes a look at issue #37 from October 1992. Issues #1 through the 30's were in the original Lillie format, approx. 3.6 x 4.25", as opposed to the layout it eventually morphed into, 4.25 x 3.5." Whats the diff, you might ask. Well, the current format has 16 pages, as opposed to 12 pages, and is taller than it is wide, the reverse of the original. Thus more pages and more poems per page. The old format averaged between 10 to 15 poems, the new 20 to 26 or so.

Just in case you were wondering.

As a result, from here out through issue #1, there are less poems to choose from so, as a result, there will probably be a few less sample poems per issue. Here are 3 from October 1992:

like a smile
engulfing a white bird
a single motion
gaining the swooping speeed
of a voice
stretching across the land,
a sheet of sound
that might blanket
the living birth
within your throat
Ben Tremillo

Second Chance
In your dream you return
to the place where you went
wrong, and given this chance
to change things you go on
the way you went before.
Even in sleep you know
there is only one go --
and it went well the first time.
Where it didn't -- well, it will
be good to see you again.
Louis McKee

Gone Forever
the sky, flat and infinite blue
with coos of a mourning dove
bouncing off its page

who would call you back
when even the smallest cries
are erased

Finally, happy birthday to Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth:

the distant mountain
reflected in his eyes...
translated by David Lanoue



Kraxpelax said...

Personal Advertisement. /My I Ching studies. /My Poetry.

- Peter Ingestad, Sweden

Ed Baker said...

you been in MY stacks again? no... I have the

1961 edition with the Auden introduction .. a long (and winding title of....:

A new translatiopn
of the foremost Greek poet of the 20 th century



translated, and with notes,
By Rae Dalven

etc as there is mor to the title...

and, this guy Kraxpelex might wanna read (my ) Hexapoems I (on my site)

the "other" 'boss' Greek poet that 'changed my life' : Seferis!

Anonymous said...


here is Rae Dalven,s "take" on that poem. Cavafy wrote it in 1914!


I should like to relate this memory . . .
but it is so faded now . . . scarcely anything is left -
because it lies far off, in the years of my early manhood.

A skin as if made of jasmine . . .
that night in August- was it August?- that night . . .

I can just barely remember the eyes: they were, I think blue . . .
Ah yes, blue: a saphire blue.


CANDLES written in 1911 is in tis "complete"


I just can't get the lines to lay right.... and as Cavafy was/is a-the master of the run-on line

how it he got it on the page very important..


I could skan
it (?)


Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Try sending it to me via email - maybe I can do something with the layout ... or send me the scan via email and maybe I can do something with that.

I very much like his translation of the "Far Off" piece ...

I need to dig into Seferis ...


Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Peter: The comments section not really a forum for personal poetry ... sorry ... though I'm not deleting the links because you were upfront honest ...